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What Is OLED Lighting: And How Is It Different from LEDs?


| 1/23/2017 12:45:00 PM



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LED lighting has been a key factor in the energy-use revolution over the last decade. It’s amazing to think that something as innocuous as a light bulb has been at the forefront of educating consumers on how technology can cut our carbon footprint and improve our homes and businesses.

In just a few years, LED lighting went from niche uses to mainstream. Helped in part by a significant drop in price, total installations of LED bulbs in American homes more than doubled from 77 million to 202 million in just one year. That figure is even more impressive when compared to the fewer than 400,000 installations in 2009.

But will this dramatic shift from one technology to another repeat itself? Will our 25-year life span LED lightbulbs be obsolete in 10 years when another hot new green technology comes along? We won’t have to wait another decade to find out. That new technology is already here: organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs.

Estimated to be a $1.3 billion market by 2023, OLED lighting works by using thin layers of organic compounds to emit light through electric currents. In contrast, LEDs predominantly use the chemical yellow phosphor. Score one for OLEDs on the green scale. OLEDs also have no UV rays, whereas LEDs have some.



OLEDs differ significantly from LEDs in form. They are made in sheets that are incredibly thin and pliable, so they can be adapted to work in places LEDs can never go. They also emit light evenly, as opposed to the bright, concentrated light of LEDs—think the difference between a paintbrush and a pen.



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